Thursday, July 28, 2005

What's In a Name?

Ok, a little humor to hold us over. I come in contact with many many people on a daily basis. Because of that, I can't help but notice interesting names as I come across them. I fall into that category, too, since while on headcount detail 2 soldiers noticed my name as I sat near the door counting people. Clever folks, nonetheless, but good for a quick chuckle. I thought I would share just a few interesting names that I have come across. These are real names. Honest.

1. SPC Lovelady - a man. not very poignant in its humor but interesting.
2. PFC Begay - I hope that's not an order. No relation to #3.
3. Chief Buttram - no kidding. I am sure he pronounces it "Buh - trum".
4. CPT Kirk - I wouldn't lie. Tell me he's not sick of the reference by now.

and lastly, the name that motivated me for this post. I just saw tonight at supper in the DFAC. It says it all....

5. SGT Darnbush - there ya have it! Like you haven't said it yourself before.

Know any other real names that are this interesting? Post them please.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Apu vs. Tut

In light of our never-ceasing debate about what a solution to the state of islamic terrorism would be, the events of the last few days make me step back and wonder. There have been some points of view expressed that we should encourage the moderate muslims to take control of their religion. I consider that not feasible for several reasons, but the bombing in Egypt may represent a turning point.

Could the attack on another muslim nation, one that provided a majority of attackers on 9/11, by another muslim nation be the beginning of a muslim world implosion? All the other terrorist attacks, to my recollection, have been on infidel targets in the western world or western strongholds in countries outside the Middle East (eg. Bali). Pakistani muslims attacking a major Egyptian civilian site may demonstrate a schism beginning to open and fragmenting the muslim world.

If this is in fact an opportunity to back moderate muslims to gain control over their religion, how can that be done? How does the world determine what a moderate muslim is? How can we assume the condescension to put ourselves in that position to judge?

What role, also, does Pakistan play in the entire charade being acted out on the world stage. They obviously had a major role after 9/11, what could their gain be in their continued involvement; wheteher it be the empty act of 'hunting for bin Laden' with coalition forces, or secretly running the islamic terrorist machine?

I have no definite answers on any of these considerations. I just wanted to mark what I consider a potentially important event in the 'War on Terrorism' and take our debate in a new productive direction.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Everybody Loves Dorman.....

Since things have been slow here, and my personal issues have been almost completely worked out now, I have nothing spectacular to write about. At least nothing militarily spectacular. I figured I would take some time and answer some interesting questions from readers. It just so happens that the other week I was emailed a nice list of here it goes.
Where did you do basic training?

Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. Probably the most screwed up place in America when it comes to weather.

How old were you when you enlisted?

34, age limit was 35. I turned 35 in Basic.

What made you decide to enlist?

Lots of reasons. I was sitting at a desk job all the time getting round in the middle,was doing nothing exciting. My consulting business was taking off and I was doing phone interviews with ESPN for a Systems Admin job (thanks Siva!!), but the deadline on joining the Army was coming up and I wanted to do something more than struggle in business. Germany was part of my deal, I got everything I wanted when I signed up. I love Army life, best job I ever had. The Army is wonderful, the current administration that uses us is where my unsettledness comes from.

If you could live beside one famous person who would it be?

Brad Pitt. We'd have fun. Bet you thought I'd say the Dalai Lama or Shannon Elizabeth. No, I am not gay either, not that there's anything wrong with that. (to quote Seinfeld)

How do you know what to do on a daily basis?? Same thing daily?

My overall role is defined, then I operate within parameters which I set up and worked out with those in charge of other responsibilities. Otherwise, I decide what we do since I run the shop.

Who's responsible for cleaning the shitter?

Haji (no sympathy there)

How often can you take showers?

Practically = whenever the water is on, Abidingly = once a day, Realistically = due to water shortages I have had 3 this month, trying to take my 4th today.

Would you rather be rich or famous?

Famous, fame can bring money. Plus I would rather have someone happy to see me when I arrive than be wealthy and risk being alone. People buy you beer when you're famous.

What if you are on a convoy and you have to poop?

Then it becomes very uncomfortable riding in a bumpy HMMWV. Pinch and Pray.

Does someone come around and collect your laundry?

No. We have laundry drop off points. KBR hires Haji to do our clothes. Sarge works at main laundry. He washes my underwear ;)

What kind of food is served in the mess?

It differs from FOB to FOB. Our food preps are very cool people....Babu is one of them as you remember. But the food sucks, no real butter - everything is done in oil. Makes me nauseous after I eat. So CARE packages should contain protein bars, beer pretzels, Cup-o-Ramens, and gobstoppers if anyone is ever so inclined. That way I can skip meals.

Do you have to make your bed every day?

Only if they threaten to check. I have a camo blanket hanging in front of mine.

Do you have to worry about people stealing when you aren't there?

Yes and no. The CHUs have locks on them but where I live is different. I am in a high traffic area and we all know each other. The 1SG has a peeve too about thieves so if anyone got caught stealing I am sure he/she would need to make an appointment at the medical center.

How many people report to you?

Just 1.... Baker

What is your rank?

Specialist, operating in an E-5 slot.

If you could possess one superpower, what would it be?

Besides the 2 I have? Hmmmm.... morphing, I suppose. Or maybe Stupidity. Stupid people seem to get away with murder and run the world. Don't underestimate the power of stupidity! (and don't anyone say that stupidity is already one of my 2 claimed super powers.....not funny)

Do you ever get a day off?

Kinda, Sunday is my "off-tempo day" . I am like a fireman anyway, I get to work when there is a need.

Can you bring that cute dog home? I love him!!!

No Buddy can't come back with me. But I do fully support and recommend Dog Rescue organizations. I got my one dog, Zero, from a Pointer Rescue organization from Athens, GA. The other, a German Shorthaired Pointer, Abby, was from the SPCA.

Do you have TV?

Yes, AFN channels only. But we have several Hajis selling black market DVDs of movies and boxed sets of TV series. I brought a lot of music, movies, and series from home. So I spend most of my entertainment time watching Everybody Loves Raymond episodes.

How long have you lived in Deutschland? Are you fluent yet?

18 months before being sent here. I plan to extend after the deployment and possibly stay there after the Army. I can read German decently, I can understand most everything when listening to Rammstein or Eisbrecher, I can hold basic short conversations, but not near fluent. Aber, Ich moechte sein.

How many holes does it take to fill the Albert Hall?

Ad hoc, Ad loc, and quid pro quo. So little time, so much to know!
There ya have it. A brief glimpse behind the curtain. Any further questions? Just ask in the comments section.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Supporting Soldiers

If you are a regular reader, then you probably know that I am going through a rough time personally. I have been deployed nearly 7 months now and have had plenty of time to think about my situation in Iraq and back home. This morning I considered the problems I am facing on a larger scale.

There are several organizations and programs out there dedicated to supporting soldiers that are deployed. BookForSoldiers is one that I, myself, had submitted my name. I received support in letters and CARE packages from several people, to whom I owe a great debt of appreciation. Each one of you that directly supports a soldier makes it just that much easier for us to deal with life here in Iraq. But there is a component missing for many of us married soldiers.

Many soldiers in my unit and others I work with, have found pictures on the internet of their spouses dancing at clubs, have spouses that have run their family in to debt despite the extra pay we receive for being deployed. Some of us suffer the indifference of a scared or selfish spouse. Whatever the problem back home, it is a cancer that slowly eats at the soul of the soldier; degrading morale and motivation. Divorce rates in the military have sky-rocketed, homocide rates and domestic disputes during R&R and return home have increased significantly. Spouses find themselves alone, possibly frustrated, and with extra time and money on their hands. This leads, apparently many, to fill the void in a destructive way.

My solution to this is simple. Keep supporting soldiers directly through the wonderful programs available but also take this extra step. If there is a military member in your family, anywhere in the family tree, or you have friends that are military, support them first. If they are married, then support the spouse by holding that person accountable financially and socially, by extending your contact to them so they don't feel so alone, by helping them keep a structure to their lives that maintains the homelife that the soldier has left to serve his duty. Take a personal interest and get involved in their lives.

Spouses often get overlooked, even though there are support groups available, such as the FRG (Family Readiness Group), at the batallion level. If their time was filled with support from friends and family, with visits, phone calls, emails, whatever, then there would be less likelihood of a marital breakdown.

Every soldier deserves a warm sincere welcome home from any deployment.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Buddy Update

Yesterday morning I was greeted by Buddy on my way across the stones to my shop. He followed another soldier to our work area. He remembered me when he saw me and immediately came over for some more 'dog-play'. It was nice to play with him again and to know he's still around.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Waiting for the Worms

Lately I haven't been very active on the blog for several reasons. I don't find anything new and interesting to describe. I suppose I have lost a certain fervor for the wonders of Iraq, like I am surrounded by a wall and this is all there is.

I have been trying to focus on getting the final paper and final exam done for my Master's Degree class. They are both due within the next 8 days. Plus there has been a long standing personal issue that has weighed me down incredibly. But nonetheless, the tyranny of time drags me forward and things will change. Until something of significance happens that can break me out of the same conversational ruts, I thought I would just give a brief update on life here at Caldwell lately.

We have been under a water restriction for more than a week. That means today I was able to get my first shower in 7 days. Amazing what a person learns to do without and to adapt. I did discover that there is a way to bathe oneself more effectively with baby wipes. I found that if I drink a lot of water then go to the gym to work up an all-over sweat, the dirt comes off much easier than if I sat still all day collecting the dust in the air. The water restriction also meant that the main laundry facility was unableto do its usual 24 hour turn around. My bedding and 2 other bags of clothes were stuck there until yesterday. When I finally got my bedding back it smelled as if a dog had run its ass across the blankets. Apparently Haji stuck the stuff back in the bag before they were completely dry. Luckily I could hang them out in the sun and heat for a few hours to clear it up. Nothing lives in this environment, not even stink bacteria.

I have been relieved of the burden of studying for the promotion board also. Guess I am going nto wait a few extra months before I get my chance. No problem, I was pushing to be ahead of schedule anyway.

I continue to be disillusioned about the world around me and the people I know, on a daily basis. This war experience has been both an external experience that has brought the visions on the TV to my daily life, and an internal struggle of cutting through the layers of personal crap that has been there, programmed in or assumed, for years. Nothing like extended periods of isolation and pressure to turn coal to diamond. I am a much simpler man now and am knowingly facing more struggles in my future.

So that is it. Not much of an update. Still trying to overcome some disparaging remarks someone significant made of my blogging. It took the joy out of it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nothing Much

Recently I returned from a mission to Balad, you know, where Rumsfeld hangs out with the insurgent leaders. Seemed to be the same-old convoy mission except for a few things. First, we were just a bit late to experience a VBIED (car bomb) near a bridge outside Ba'qubah. We passed a line of waiting cars on our left and a pile of smoldering metal debris to our right. It is a tight alley flanked by high bushes with frequent traffic jams. The detonation must have been less than an hour before we arrived. I don't know if there were casualties or not, besides the driver. It looked as though the car detonated away from a congested area for some odd reason. Bad time to not have batteries in my cameras.

Next, once we arrived on base, we pulled our trucks to the side to in-process. I stood no more than 20 meters away from the front gate and guard shack watching an Iraqi soldier dance around and play with his weapon (AK-47). Once he brought it up, aimed at a car on the other sideof the fence, and pulled the trigger. He dry-fired, no ammo. I stood there in disbelief. Our ROE (Rules of Engagement) state that any hostile action by anyone will be met with deadly force. I said something to my gunner, who didn't see it. I stood there watching this fool hop around like he was on some rap video, throwing his weapon down and acting stupid. Again, he walked over, picked up the AK and aimed at the car and driver. Pulled the trigger 4 more times and made the rifle jerk like it was firing. That was enough. I grabbed my M249 and hastily approached this young soldier with my finger pointing at his face. He turned, faced me and went limp.
"Yes, sir...", he was able to mutter.
"Point that ****** weapon toward the ground at all times! Do NOT *&$#%$ raise it at anyone. You point it, I see you, I shoot you %$$#$ dead. Understand, ^&%$^)( dead." I sternly communicated to him as I demonstrated how to properly handle a weapon (I was up in his face).
"No bullets, sir, no bullets."
"I don't freakin' care. I don't know that when I see you. You raise weapon at an innocent person or another soldier and you are DEAD."
"yes sir, thank you sir." He mumbled as I walked away.

That is what we call a "brief block of instruction" in the Army. I may have just saved that kid's life, or at least made him look like an ass to his comrades.

During the mission we had to wear full battle rattle 24/7 with no air conditioning. The transient housing tents were full of sand fleas, so I now look like I have suffered a biblical plaque.

After the mission, I was given a convoy team coin. I am now part of the 'inner circle' so to speak.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Someone Else's Words

I don't like republishing someone else's work or words in their entirety, but this was emailed to me recently. I felt it summed up so many of the topics we have discussed here that I couldn't miss putting this out for discussion. It is quite long but it is worth the read. I will have an original, personal post up soon. I am still picking up pieces and making sense of things. Until then, please consider this:

To get out of a difficulty, one usually must go through it. Our country is now facing the most serious threat to its existence, as we know it, that we have faced in your lifetime and mine (which includes WWII).

The deadly seriousness is greatly compounded by the fact that there are very few of us who think we can possibly lose this war and even fewer who realize what losing really means.

First, let's examine a few basics:

1. When did the threat to us start? Many will say September 11th, 2001. The answer as far as the United States is concerned is 1979, 22 years prior to September 2001, with the following attacks on us: Iran Embassy Hostages, 1979; Beirut, Lebanon Embassy 1983; Beirut, Lebanon Marine Barracks 1983; Lockerbie, Scotland Pan-Am flight to New York 1988; First New York World Trade Center attack 1993; Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Khobar Towers Military complex 1996; Nairobi, Kenya US Embassy 1998; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania US Embassy 1998; Aden, Yemen USS Cole 2000; New York World Trade Center 2001; Pentagon 2001. (Note that during the period from 1981 to 2001 there were 7,581 terrorist attacks worldwide).

2. Why were we attacked? Envy of our position, our success, and our freedoms. The attacks happened during the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2. We cannot fault either the Republicans or Democrats as there were no provocations by any of the presidents or their immediate predecessors, Presidents Ford or Carter.

3. Who were the attackers? In each case, the attacks on the US were carried out by Muslims.

4. What is the Muslim population of the World? 25%

5. Isn't the Muslim Religion peaceful? Hopefully, but that is really not material. There is no doubt that the predominately Christian population of Germany was peaceful, but under the dictatorial leadership of Hitler (who was also Christian), that made no difference. You either went along with the administration or you were eliminated. There were 5 to 6 million Christians killed by the Nazis for political reasons (including 7,000 Polish priests). see ).

Thus, almost the same number of Christians were killed by the Nazis, as the 6 million holocaust Jews who were killed by them, and we seldom heard of anything other than the Jewish atrocities. Although Hitler kept the world focused on the Jews, he had no hesitancy about killing anyone who got in his way of exterminating the Jews or of taking over the world - German, Christian or any others. Same with the Muslim terrorists. They focus the world on the US, but kill all in the way - their own people or the Spanish, French or anyone else. The point here is that just like the peaceful Germans were of no protection to anyone from the Nazis, no matter how many peaceful Muslims there may be, they are no protection for us from the terrorist Muslim leaders and what they are fanatically bent on doing - by their own pronouncements - killing all of us "infidels". I don't blame the peaceful Muslims. What would you do if the choice was shut up or die?

6. So who are we at war with? There is no way we can honestly respond that it is anyone other than the Muslim terrorists. Trying to be politically correct and avoid verbalizing this conclusion can well be fatal. There is no way to win if you don't clearly recognize and articulate who you are fighting.

So with that background, now to the two major questions:
1. Can we lose this war?
2. What does losing really mean?

If we are to win, we must clearly answer these two pivotal questions.

We can definitely lose this war, and as anomalous as it may sound, the major reason we can lose is that so many of us simply do not fathom the answer to the second question - What does losing mean?

It would appear that a great many of us think that losing the war means hanging our heads, bringing the troops home and going on about our business, like post Vietnam. This is as far from the truth as one can get. What losing really means is:

We would no longer be the premier country in the world. The attacks will not subside, but rather will steadily increase. Remember, they want us dead, not just quiet. If they had just wanted us quiet, they would not have produced an increasing series of attacks against us, over the past 18 years. The plan was clearly, for terrorist to attack us, until we were neutered and submissive to them.

We would of course have no future support from other nations, for fear of reprisals and for the reason that they would see, we are impotent and cannot help them.

They will pick off the other non-Muslim nations, one at a time. It will be increasingly easier for them. They already hold Spain hostage. It doesn't matter whether it was right or wrong for Spain to withdraw its troops from Iraq. Spain did it because the Muslim terrorists bombed their train and told them to withdraw the troops. Anything else they want Spain to do, will be done. Spain is finished.

The next will probably be France. Our one hope on France is that they might see the light and realize that if we don't win, they are finished too, in that they can't resist the Muslim terrorists without us. However, it may already be too late for France. France is already 20% Muslim and fading fast!

If we lose the war, our production, income, exports and way of life will all vanish as we know it. After losing, who would trade or deal with us, if they were threatened by the Muslims. If we can't stop the Muslims, how could anyone else? The Muslims fully know what is riding on this war, and therefore are completely committed to winning, at any cost. We better know it too and be likewise committed to winning at
any cost.

Why do I go on at such lengths about the results of losing? Simple. Until we recognize the costs of losing, we cannot unite and really put 100% of our thoughts and efforts into winning. And it is going to take that 100% effort to win.

So, how can we lose the war? Again, the answer is simple. We can lose the war by " imploding". That is, defeating ourselves by refusing to recognize the enemy and their purpose, and really digging in and lending full support to the war effort. If we are united, there is no way that we can lose. If we continue to be divided, there is no way that we can win!

Let me give you a few examples of how we simply don't comprehend the life and death seriousness of this situation.

- President Bush selects Norman Mineta as Secretary of Transportation. Although all of the terrorist attacks were committed by Muslim men between 17 and 40 years of age, Secretary Mineta refuses to allow profiling. Does that sound like we are taking this thing seriously? This is war! For the duration, we are going to have to give up some of the civil rights, we have become accustomed to. We had better be prepared to lose some of our civil rights temporarily or we will most certainly lose all of them permanently.

And don't worry that it is a slippery slope. We gave up plenty of civil rights during WWII, and immediately restored them after the victory and in fact added many more since then. Do I blame President Bush or President Clinton before him? No, I blame us for blithely assuming we can maintain all of our Political Correctness, and all of our civil rights during this conflict and have a clean, lawful, honorable war. None of those words apply to war. Get them out of your head.

- Some have gone so far in their criticism of the war and/or the Administration that it almost seems they would literally like to see us lose. I hasten to add that this isn't because they are disloyal. It is because they just don't recognize what losing means. Nevertheless, that conduct gives the impression to the enemy that we are divided and weakening, it concerns our friends, and it does great damage to our cause.

- Of more recent vintage, the uproar fueled by the politicians and media regarding the treatment of some prisoners of war, perhaps exemplifies best what I am saying. We have recently had an issue, involving the treatment of a few Muslim prisoners of war, by a small group of our military police. These are the type prisoners who just a few months ago were throwing their own people off buildings, cutting off their hands, cutting out their tongues and otherwise murdering their own people just for disagreeing with Saddam Hussein. And just a few years ago these same type prisoners chemically killed 400,000 of their own people for the same reason. They are also the same type enemy fighters, who recently were burning Americans, and dragging their charred corpses through the streets of Iraq. And still more recently, the same type enemy that was and is providing videos to all news sources internationally, of the beheading of American prisoners they held. Compare this with some of our press and politicians, who for several days have thought and talked about nothing else but the "humiliating" of some Muslim prisoners - not burning them, not dragging their charred corpses through the streets, not beheading them, but "humiliating" them. Can this be for real? The politicians and pundits have even talked of impeachment of the Secretary of Defense. If this doesn't show the complete lack of comprehension and understanding of the seriousness of the enemy we are fighting, the life and death struggle we are in and the disastrous results of losing this war, nothing can. To bring our country to a virtual political standstill over this prisoner issue makes us look like Nero playing his fiddle as Rome burned - totally oblivious to what is going on in the real world. Neither we, nor any other country, can survive this internal strife. Again I say, this does not mean that some of our politicians or media people are disloyal. It simply means that they are absolutely oblivious to the magnitude, of the situation we are in and into which the Muslim terrorists have been pushing us, for many years. Remember, the Muslim terrorists stated goal is to kill all infidels! That translates into all non-Muslims - not just in the United States, but throughout the world. We are the last bastion of defense.

We have been criticized for many years as being 'arrogant'. That charge is valid in at least one respect. We are arrogant in that we believe that we are so good, powerful and smart, that we can win the hearts and minds of all those who attack us, and that with both hands tied behind our back, we can defeat anything bad in the world! We can't! If we don't recognize this, our nation as we know it will not survive, and no other free country in the World will survive if we are defeated. And finally, name any Muslim countries throughout the world that allow freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of the Press, equal rights for anyone - let alone everyone, equal status or any status for women, or that have been productive in one single way that contributes to the good of the world.

This has been a long way of saying that we must be united on this war or we will be equated in the history books to the self-inflicted fall of the Roman Empire. If, that is, the Muslim leaders will allow history books to be written or read.

If we don't win this war right now, keep a close eye on how the Muslims take over France in the next 5 years or less. They will continue to increase the Muslim population, of France and continue to encroach little by little, on the established French traditions. The French will be fighting among themselves, over what should or should not be done, which will continue to weaken them and keep them from any united
resolve. Doesn't that sound eerily familiar?

Democracies don't have their freedoms taken away from them by some external military force. Instead, they give their freedoms away, politically correct piece by politically correct piece. And they are giving those freedoms away to those who have shown, worldwide, that they abhor freedom and will not apply it to you or even to themselves, once they are in power. They have universally shown that when they have taken over, they then start brutally killing each other over who will be the few who control the masses. Will we ever stop hearing from the politically correct, about the "peaceful Muslims"?

I close on a hopeful note, by repeating what I said above. If we are united, there is no way that we can lose. I hope now after the election, the factions in our country will begin to focus on the critical situation we are in, and will unite to save our country. It is your future we are talking about! Do whatever you can to preserve it.

There you have it. I am interested in your comments.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Wallpapers, pack 1

So, here is a small treat from me to all of you. Sisyphus Todays' first set of wallpapers. All original pics by me. Each wallpaper is a jpg file 1024x768. Feel free to pass these around without modification.

Act now and receive one free wallpaper not pictured above!

Monday, July 04, 2005

A Buddy When I Needed One.

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